Frank Lloyd Wrights Allen-Lambe House


Today is John Adam’s birthday so you really should revisit my John Adam’s blog (Part 1 and Part 2) to celebrate this great American President.

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Planters along the edge of the Allen-Lambe property line.

Planters /fence along the edge of the Allen-Lambe property line.

My copy of the Frank Lloyd Wright Field Guide lists two FLLW buildings for the state of Kansas, the Corbin Educational Center (built as the Juvenile Cultural Center in 1957) and the beautiful Allen-Lambe House.

The Allen-Lambe House was built in 1917. Wright considered it one of his best houses, and it the last of his Prairie Houses to be occupied (by its original owners.) It was commissioned by Henry Allen, a successful newspaper man and single term  Governor of Kansas and his wife Elsie Nuzman Allen a socialite and arts activist.

The house is at the corner of 2nd and Roosevelt streets.

The house is at the corner of 2nd and Roosevelt streets.

Designs and drawings on the house began in 1915 and the Allens moved in by 1918. They lived there until 1947.

The Allen-Lambe House is located at 255 North Roosevelt Street, in the northwest portion of Wichita, Kansas. The site is approximately one acre of flat land in a residential neighborhood on a corner lot. The house is a two-story Prairie-style home with a partial basement…. Mr. Wright designed the house in a L-shape for privacy purposes. There is a courtyard on the north side of the main section of the house, which is enclosed by the building on the south and east, by a garden teahouse on the west, and by a brick wall on the north. Even though the house is very open, it is well protected from neighbors by the L-shaped plan and the garden wall that runs parallel to the street. [eakpersectivedesign.weebly.com]

Floor plan (including garden and tea house.) The planters are on the right. [Image courtesy:

Floor plan (including garden and tea house.) The planters are on the right. [Image courtesy: eaksperspectivedesign.weebly.com]

Governor Allen must have been a pretty strong-willed man.  He held Wright and the construction crew firm to the original budget of $30,000. (Not something that happened often with Wright’s houses.) The house, which came with a built-in vacuum system and a security system had an additional $6,500 budget for custom furniture.  He also got Wright to include two items that the architect notoriously despised, a basement and a garage.  Wright thought both promoted clutter.

2 story wing of the Allen-Lambe house.

The 2 story wing of the Allen-Lambe house. (Right side of the Floor plan)

Wright specified the following materials for the construction of the Allen house:

INSIDE:

  • Oak wood (for the trim)
  • Red quarry tile
  • Red gum wood
  • Brick
  • Copper (for the sinks)
  • Marble

OUTSIDE:

  • Brick
  • Clay tile (for the roof — He wanted to
    create an Asian feel, as an omage to
    the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo he was working on
    at the time)
  • Marble

The materials reflected the local landscape. Bringing the outside INSIDE was very much on Wrights mind.

The walls are a gold color, the ceilings are a hazy blue color to make you feel like you are outside, and the ledges underneath the ceilings are a green color, which is suppose to make you feel like you are standing under trees. [eakpersectivedesign.weebly.com

A tile flooring flows from the terrace into the living room and dining room. The only things separating the indoor space from the outdoor space are glass doors.

Views to the exterior are through “light screens” which consist of clear glass doors and windows with terminal windows or side windows framing the views to nature with art glass. Exterior window flower boxes raise the prairie floor up to establish a strong visual relationship to nature.  [Onemain.com]

The Allen-Lambe house is open to the public on a limited basis. Tours are by appointment and must be arranged 10 days in advance of your visit. Call 1-316-687-1027 to book a tour. ($10 per guest.) Guest must be 16 years old and up. And each tour must be between 5 and 20 people. Can’t book a tour?  Consider a walk by. The exterior is easily seen from the street.

Another angle of the house. (Garden side)

Another angle of the house. (Garden side)

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Thanks to my husband, Bill for going out of his way to take all the original photos in this post and feeding my love of all things FLLW.

If you like the Allen-Lambe house you might want to check out another lovely Prairie style home we visited, the Martin House, it is in Buffalo, New York.

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer and graphic designer in Northern Baltimore County. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (travel and local interest stories.) Most recently my non fiction writing has been featured in Mason-Dixon ARRIVE Magazine. As a graphic designer I focus on cover designs and have done a number of designs for books and magazines. Recently I've entered the e-book cover field. I also enjoy working with community organizations and churches to bring their communications to a higher standard. As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one on one lessons to middle and high school students in graphic design and music. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

2 responses to “Frank Lloyd Wrights Allen-Lambe House

  • David J Gill

    A really interesting Wright house that has never been among his widely published works. I think especially fascinating because it is both a very late Prairie house and the plan is the precursor of a concept that Wright use for the first Usonian houses beginning around 1935 with the unbuilt Lusk and Hoult houses and realized with the first Jacobs house a few years later.
    Glad to see you have been to the Martin house. I saw it in the days before the restoration and I remember thinking how tragic that it was so totally compromised and if only it could be restored, but where would the money come from? I am so amazed that it has been rebuilt so well. Go see the Westcott house in Ohio. That one was ready for the bulldozer and yet it has been completely restored.

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